Easter Lake Park opened in 1967 on the site of Polk County’s last operating coal mine. After the strip mine shut down in 1959, the area was considered as a possible landfill site. However, neighborhood leaders joined together to form the South Town Lake and Development Society and promote the use of the site as a park.
A beautiful 172-acre lake is the centerpiece of this 464-acre park in southeastern Des Moines. The man-made lake on Yeader Creek supports bluegill, bullhead, catfish, crappie, large-mouth bass, and walleye. During the fall and spring migration, large flocks of Canada geese use the lake for feeding and resting.
Five picnic shelters and three children’s playgrounds overlook the lake. A boat ramp and accessible fishing pier/dock provides access for anglers. During the summer, a free swimming beach provides another wonderful way to enjoy the lake. Natural hiking trails lead visitors through some of the remote areas of the park.
The 6.2-mile Mark C. Ackelson Trail winding around Easter Lake provides an ideal place for outdoor recreation and scenic views for park visitors. Cycling, skating and hiking opportunities along the trail lie adjacent to playground equipment, fishing piers, a boat ramp, and several picnic areas. Parking and trail access is available from any of the shelters and parking lots located throughout Easter Lake Park as well as at the beach. The north side of the trail is accessible from Ewing Park.
The trail will have many bridges, but the one that will be remembered by trail users is the new 440’ bridge that spans the western arm of the lake. This multiple span bridge mirrors the bow-string design concept of the other bridges on the trail, but the two twin piers with observation bump-outs will make the already scenic bridge an enjoyable spot to pause and enjoy the quiet beauty of Easter Lake.
Along the railing of the pedestrian bridge, individual bridge plaque sponsors are recognized with a plaque bearing their name or company name, friend or loved ones’ name(s).